YMCAfit - Escape your boring job
“What do you do?” is a question which fills many with fear. At this juncture, it becomes commonplace to pigeon-hole oneself into the profession which has now come to symbolise their persona. Few take the opportunity to wax lyrical about their marathon exploits, their passion for the gym or their abilities on the tennis courts. Rather, the answer of “tax advisor”, “PR” or “work in an office” spill out, commonly greeted with a hesitant “oh ok”, swiftly followed by an awkward silence.
The hours of nine to five seldom represent any deeply held passions in life; instead these hours are often treated as a means to an end - an income. We have other pursuits, which if we have the energy, can be embraced over the weekends and perhaps an evening or two per week.
This picture is indicative of many people’s day-to-day existence. However, an increasing number of people are refusing to accept the status quo and are changing their careers to pursue their passion for fitness. Retraining forms the basis for anyone looking to make this transition, but the perception that you’ll be starting from scratch is not the case. Many of the skills honed in previous professions are transferable. Good administrative skills will be pivotal in order to maximise your availability for potential clients or employers; relationship-building qualities are sure to boost the number of regulars; and effective planning and marketing are the bedrock of any successful business.
What’s more, nowadays training for a new career doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment. YMCA Fitness Industry Training (YMCAfit), the UK’s most experienced training provider of fitness qualifications, offers the chance to complete training courses as full-time or part-time options. This gives the opportunity for some to become a qualified personal trainer in just seven weeks, whilst others can fit their training around their work and gain their qualifications within a year.
Over recent years personal training has proven to be the fitness industry’s most lucrative career choice and, in today’s tough economic times, it’s easy to see why. Few other professions offer such a degree of personal and professional flexibility, and even fewer are able to prosper in such a diverse range of environments, with the park, the studio, the gym and even the beach offering ideal working conditions and opportunities for good personal trainers.
Sonam Bligh is a personal trainer who has dedicated his career to helping others. Having worked in social care for more than a decade, rehabilitating young offenders until recently, he has always been an influencer of people. “I’m used to goal setting, motivating and being positive,” he explains. “Helping people gives me a real buzz.”
But when he found his own values conflicting with the political direction in which social care was heading, 37-year-old Sonam decided it was time to for a change – and a career in the fitness industry was an obvious move. “I’ve been training all my life and I’ve got a few friends who have been successful after training with YMCAfit,” he says. “This is a way for me to keep true to myself and be able to help people, but in a different way. I’m able to transfer skills from my previous career into a field I know very well.”
Changing career wasn’t a decision Sonam took lightly, but rather a necessary investment in his future. “I really did my research and I could see that YMCAfit was head and shoulders above other providers,” he says. “I’ve seen the success of friends who have followed the same route, and their achievements compounded that belief.”
Finding common ground
Having empathy and being able to relate to clients is a major factor in developing the relationships needed to support clients and develop a thriving business. Personal Trainer Nathan Howes, 24, uses his life experiences to motivate disadvantaged young people facing their own struggles
Although he’d always been into fitness, Nathan had never stepped foot in a gym until around six years ago. A family breakdown resulted in him living in supported housing at 17, leaving him feeling anxious and depressed. His housing association’s manager suggested using exercise to boost his mood and his morale, and being given a free gym membership marked a turning point in Nathan’s life.
“Getting into the gym made me feel a whole lot better about things and gave me a positive attitude,” he recalls. “I used to feel like I couldn’t do anything, but now I realise I can achieve what I like; I just have to put my mind to it.”
But Nathan is most passionate about his day-to-day work: spurred on by his own experiences he has helped to set up a gym with a local housing association, giving disadvantaged youngsters a space to work out and a platform to improve their lives. “Some people I work with have never thought about health and fitness and have learned a lot about life through being in the gym.”
Sonam and Nathan are just two individuals reaping the rewards of their bold decisions. The scope of the fitness industry leaves the opportunity wide open for many more to follow. If you’ve been thinking about making changes, it’s never been so easy. Wait no longer, your time is now!
For more information about how you can start your career in fitness, visit ymcafit.org.uk/yourtime
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